Monday, August 15, 2011

Margherita Monday

As I walked into staff lounge and copy room today at work, my nose immediately led my body towards one of the dining tables. Placed in the center stood a tall grocery bag with several towering stems of fresh basil. The scent was delightful and I was thrilled and so thankful that one of my colleagues decided to share some of their garden with everyone else. I can't rave enough about how much I love fresh basil! As I selected a few stems to take home with me, I discovered even more goodies! At the bottom of the bag lay homegrown Roma and baby Heirloom tomatoes. I squealed with delight as I collected a few, stacked my copies on top of my edible treasure, and maneuvered my way back to my classroom.

I originally had plans to make a simple sandwich for dinner, but did not want to let the fresh produce sit another day. Consequently, I decided to cook up a simple margherita pizza-- a perfect way to showcase delicious and quality ingredients; I planned on using my Roma tomatoes and basil (the baby Heirlooms will serve as great snacks later). For a "heartier" pizza, I added some thinly sliced imported prosciutto. Yum!

Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto
Makes one 14" pizza

Whole-wheat pizza dough (I cheated today and picked up some from my local grocery store ;) ). *You can always make it from scratch using the recipe I listed here in this recipe. However, the recipe is enough for two pizzas while I picked up an amount of dough for one 14" pizza.

3 Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced about 1/4" thick
1/2 cup freshly chopped or julienned basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (temp. may vary depending on dough; see note above).

1. In a small-medium sauce pot, bring about 3-4 cups of water to a boil. Place the tomatoes into the water and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, drain the tomatoes, and allow them to cool for a few minutes just until they are safe to handle. Gently peel off the skins and then coarsely chop the tomatoes; set aside. Dry off any water from the sauce pot and heat 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Once heated, add the minced garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, and oregano; cook for about 10 minutes on medium-low, stirring often. Allow the sauce to simmer and cook until all the flavors blend together. Turn off the heat and set the sauce  aside.

2. When the dough has been prepped and is ready for baking, place it on a lightly floured surface and create a 12-14" round/shape. Place it on a lined or lightly greased and floured baking sheet/pizza stone. Brush the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil over the surface and edges of the dough. Spread all of the sauce evenly on the dough, evenly top with mozzarella, sprinkle with the fresh basil (leave about 1 tbsp behind for later), gently place strips of prosciutto on top of the pizza, and finally sprinkle the freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the pizza. Bake for about 10-15 minutes (or follow packaging instructions if using store-bought pizza).

3. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, and sprinkle with remaining basil. Eat up!

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